How to Harvest Zinnia Seeds

It’s that time of year when zinnia blooms retire and new ones arrive.  If you have several plants you know it can be difficult to keep up with their activity.

Many gardeners cut off dead blooms and toss the remains into compost or burn piles.  I must admit sometimes I do this but not before I harvest seeds from expired stems.

I was taught early on to save the best blooms for seeds to use in the next spring planting.

Normally those best blooms are the first ones to appear with quality characteristics, measured by size and color.

I thought it would be fun to share how easy it is to harvest your own zinnia seeds. This little tip will keep you from purchasing new packets year after year.

Zinnia’s Going to Seed

In order to harvest zinnias, seed you must let the buds go to seed, this means you leave the flower alone and let it dry out on the stem.  Over a few days the petals will disappear and the base of the flower expands.

Since I harvest my own seeds every season I’m always on the lookout for the best blooms; sometimes I will mark them with a string so I don’t forget because once with fade it can be difficult to remember those quality flowers.

Removing Dead Blooms

Removing dead blooms may take about a week or two because the flower needs time to finish producing seeds; this will vary due to temperature and how much rainfall occurs.

Once you have several dried blooms remove them from the stem with cutters just as you would for a fresh cut flower.  When you’re done find a clean space to work for collecting seeds.

You’re going to be amazed at how many seeds one flower can produce.

Harvest the Seeds

Harvesting is fun and it can get kind of messy if the flowers still have some of their petals attached. The seeds come from the bud base and in this case, we’re looking for oval shaped seeds.  They’ll vary in color and there will be many.

All you want to do is separate and sort the seeds from each bud until you’re done. Sometimes I take a wire screen and sift through, this is faster than separating by hand.

I made a screen using small gauge wire and it works pretty good.

You may also enjoy my complete guide for growing zinnias right in your garden or backyard.  Get it here.


Wasn’t that easy?  Harvesting zinnia seeds is pretty easy and remember to let these seeds air dry for about 5 days before sorting in an envelope.

Make sure to label the year and variety then store in a cool place.

Now you have seeds for next spring and maybe you’ll have additional seeds to share with your gardening friends.

Harvesting seeds from the garden can make great Christmas and Birthday gifts for gardening enthusiasts.

How to harvest zinnia seeds from your own garden season after season. #Gardentips, #harvestingseeds


  1. Patti says:

    Hi Carole,

    My sister-in-law does this every year and here in PA it’s really nice to grow zinnia because they are one of the few that are still blooming their heads off into the fall. Every year I say I’m going to grow them and I even bought some seed this year but time got away from me. I’ll just have to try again next year.

    1. Carole says:

      You would love them, they’re probably one of my favorite summer cut flowers. I’ll see about sending in some of those seeds to you too. I’ve been letting those sunflower heads dry so I can sort their seeds. We’ve had a lot of rain and I’ve been a little slack in the garden so give me a couple weeks and you should eventually see those seeds in the mail.

  2. Jemma says:

    Good Morning Carole,
    Great tips on harvesting Zinnias and gifting the seeds. I am going to give that a try this week.
    Lovely to see a post from you, I always enjoy your writing and tips so much!

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you Jemma -Harvesting seeds is another favorite thing I do in addition to the propagating. I was telling Robert I think I’m a weird gardener because I enjoy aspects of gardening that are often overlooked. He says it’s because I had a great mentor/teacher. I’ve been busy cleaning up the garden this week – which means early mornings and late evenings outside. All that rain well let’s just say I ignored that side of the farm for a couple weeks and what a mess. Hope all is well your way.


  3. daisy says:

    Zinnias are one of my favorites. They are so vintage-looking. Haven’t gotten any planted this year, but maybe I’ll still have time. It’s mighty hot out there right now.
    Thanks for sharing your seed-saving strategy. ;0)

    1. Carole says:

      You’re welcome Daisy – I think you still have time to plant some of these beauties. I’m adding some more seeds this week for fall.. Just a fun and way to keep the grounds fresh and inviting.

  4. I saved seeds from last year. Have you ever planted some mid-summer for fall blooms?

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Katie – Yes I plant a second batch every year. I actually prefer my fall harvest zinnias because their growth is a bit more relaxed. You may also enjoy this post on growing zinnias.

      Hope you have a nice weekend -Carole

  5. Lisa says:

    Hi Carole, I decided to let my giant zinnias stand thru the Wisconsin winter for the birds and now I’m wondering if seeds remaining are viable. I’ll plant a few with hope just to see… but the seeds are few and small.

    1. Carole says:

      I bet some of those seeds feel into the ground… This happens with mine because I let them mature on the plant to collect seeds and find the following year I have some volunteers. Anyways you should be able to get those seeds to germinate however they may not be the best quality due to size.

  6. Dawn says:

    Great tip for collecting seeds! When their season is over do you pull the whole plant and root out of the ground? This is my first year having a cut flower garden and I love it!!

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Dawn, yes just pull it all right out of the ground and then I either burn off my annuals and use the ashes in raised beds or compost. Cut flower gardens are awesome!

  7. Carin Beukema says:

    If you cut the blooms off and dry in the house will the seeds still come…..i was dead heading and I hate to throw away the flowers

    1. Carole says:

      Some how I missed this comment – normally it never takes me days to respond… If those deadheads have already turned brown there should be seeds inside so letting them dry out and then shred to gather the seeds. The point of letting them dry on the stem is so the seeds can develop. Good Luck!

  8. Miss North Carolina (wilmington) says:

    Was wondering if you knew how to keep the flowers true color after harvest? I’ll plant all different kinds of colors (fresh seeds packs from store) but when I save seeds for next year they all are pretty much the same color of pink. My guess is from self pollination? and how do you get around that? Thanks, Kel

    1. Carole says:

      You guessed it right, it’s pollination and I’ve also run into this. One way to get around it is to plant your varieties in different areas, far apart from one another. Or just stick to one type each year.

  9. Paula Campbell says:

    Loved your article. Thank you. Any tips on storing the seeds. Temp? Do they need a cold spell? When is the best time to start seeds? Start indoors or direct seeding outside?

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Paula, Hope you’re having a great day.
      I always store seeds envelopes and a cool place. My grandma taught me how to harvest seeds long ago and she kept the process very simple and I do the same. Since zinnias are annuals and easy to germinate I like to direct seed right after the last frost and because we have a long growing season here in Texas I plant a second crop in July to enjoy in the fall.

      For more growing advice check out this post >

      Or get my complete guide which is a neat magazine article here >

      I also have a really neat garden Journal that focuses on seasonal gardening you might like. You can get that free when you subscribe at the end of this post.


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